That's 9 days for you -- 3 days for us. :p We actually want RC4 to be live in the 16th and that becomes the Press Copy on the 19th so they can play over the weekend.
NCR Fallout New California Menu Theme -- Pablo Cortina - Mod DB
Figured that since this is our last development weekend I'd post an update to inform you all where we're at.
And it's good news!
We went from RC1 (Release Candidate 1) on the 10th, where I noticed a lot of issues we baked in during the last round of updates and just had to crack it open to rebuild RC 2. RC2 was going great but it had some issues with installing and some obvious texture and audio troubles. So we upgraded to RC 3 today, and that went out to a sample test group of users who are now happily playing away after testing installer packages all day.
We hit some obvious troubles on NMM and FOMM and are testing RC3.1 tonight. So it turns out there is a specific 7-zip archive compression that Nexus Mod Manager and Fallout Mod Manager either like or dislike. We used the one they dislike, causing Out of Memory errors.
That's okay, this is why we have tests before release day.
Mod Organizer 1 and 2 and the new Nexus Vortex (beta) both performed admirably. No hangs, no crashes, installed reliably -- boom. Done. Plug and play, off you go. (With some exceptions for user error, such as installing your MO2 archive on a different HDD than your New Vegas folder. It's a learning experience for us too, you never know what user builds will look like until you encounter them.)
If you'd like a tutorial, Michael from Gamer Poets has one!
Tonight we'll call in some more testers using NMM and FOMM to see if our new package avoids the dreaded Out of Memory error. It works for us but we're experts. We need users to test it.
Everyone that has it installed is now playtesting the mod's story and environments.
They've found some very minor Beta-y things people catch when they are asked on purpose to go break things, but the mod has been surprisingly robust. With 35 people on 38 computers spending 6-10 hours playing the mod (none have beat it yet or even come close) there are bound to be some unexpected turnups.
Kleptomaniacs trying to steal everything not bolted down, maps that glow being too bright, randomly killing npcs that turn out to be important <-- and surprisingly that has all worked seamlessly!
We even had a dude refuse to kill anyone and only use non lethal weapons this month and he still managed to beat the entire game in both major paths (non-Enclave, but even then it is almost possible til the end.) Our dialogue may seem to push you to make certain decisions, but you can always find an alternative.
The mildly unpleasant but not ruinous issues noted are things we've known about for years:
#1 The Vault 18 Atrium, Athens-Tec Mine, Union-City, and Daggerpoint all have FPS issues.
We release with a low res 1024 pack and that helps but doesn't eliminate the issue. Looking at the "middle" of these locations causes a drop to around 31-45fps. Not ruinous, but frustrating, especially to ENB users. But even vanilla users experience drops that are pretty harsh around those same numbers on lower-end rigs.
#2 Bethesda Pathfinding AI is very Bugthesda Pathfinding AI.
We optimized the hell out of our navmesh in primary locations that we know get the most traffic by our companions. But If you take your companions offroading through the mountains and trees, they're gonna get stuck, and they will teleport to you after you get a ways away. That's just how this engine is. Been true since Morrowind. Feel free to cue the inevitable bugthesda comments. :p Ours actually perform better because we know the limits petty well, but if you go climb a vertical wall don't blame me that they can't solve the trig.
My bane. There's 16,944 lines of dialogue in this mod. Inevitably, some lines changed in recording to sound better when an actor spoke a line. Not all of those edits made it into the GECK because, lets face it, copyediting is boring. :p No one is getting paid for this. It's all volunteer! Anthony Moorse and Mark Feurerborn did an admirable job of it, but there's still a few lines per character that don't quite or just don't match what is spoken. Sometimes just by 1 word or sometimes by rewording whole sentences. I'm hoping going public will inspire someone to help with that. It'd take a while, but it'd be helpful to us.
#4 Minor visual glitches here and there.
This is just what happens when you have two (read: 2) core devs. Me (Brandan) and Rick. I sometimes spend weeks on a visual art or audio project, like our ending videos which took all of November, and received a final patch yesterday to update an art asset on a main character. So I don't get around to certain things like, locking decorative terminals, or moving a z-fighting plane. These are things your core content developer should be able to delegate to a 3rd guy who tackles small issue tickets while we focus on game breaks and content creation. I did as much as I could, but I can't clone myself.
Some things are marginally more obvious.
Unfortunately the actor for Jenn didn't want to come back for her update, so I had my new friend Jeriko fill it in. It's a small gap, but it caused some timing concerns -- now fixed by Rick and I. Eventually we'll replace ALL of Jenn with a new actress, but that's 825 lines! Not a small task recording (6-7.5 hours) and editing (2 days.)
There is also this gorgeous curving hallways that absolutely refuses to accept the correct normal tangent coordinates over its length and randomly flickers certain faces on and off. But that's okay -- What we did to compensate is add it to the lore. The hallway is part of a quest to fix a pipe by an electrical box, and if you don't fix it, a gas leak will later, in part 2, be a Luck option in dialogue with the main bad guy. Passing the luck check causes the pipe to explode, knocking him out. It's also the location where Lieutenant Weather was murdered and buried under the floor by Chevy, so his ghost now haunts the hallway, whispering in your ear of the horrors of his tormented afterlife.
We now have a brand new vigor tester texture by me. Had to remake part of the mesh to fix a flickering panel that refused to light correctly (again, Nif format and Gambryo have totally jank normal disagreements. Someone tell these people that Z is up from now on and stick to it.) I named it the Fenstermaker & Garcia Brand Vault-Tec Vigor Tester in honor of two Obsidian devs who also had to contend with this bug, and 10 years later, you're welcome guys, I fixed it! Haha! XD
I was going to replace the entire mesh with a brand new system that isn't a vigor tester, but my desire to do that is...
It just... it just works.
So I'll live with it.
The good news is, after climbing Mount Gambryo for 7 years, Fallout: New California is pretty damn cool.
We got the badass new ending theme song and super mutant match by Pablo. We got this amazing new ending video-set from me. Rick fixed the ending battle so it is MUCH MUCH easier to play and win, and it's fun. And all the installer woes, we think, are patched up!
The final test group so far is enjoying it. Even despite the minor issues, it is still, if you're not looking for those things on purpose, working as expected with no game breaks and deeply immersive.
And that is a good feeling. :)
So now that I'm satisfied with this grindcore weekend, Rick and I both have day jobs on Monday but we'll still pull second shift at home working on this til 11-12am (or 2 or 3am if you're me) and make sure to tighten up those final BETA Release Candidate issues people are churning up by stress testing the mod.
We'll continue to do balance, especially by populating the wasteland with "stuff," during 200 and 201, and supporting the mod. Really going BETA for us, we are done, it's just minor things, and any work you guys wany to mod in and we can merge, fixes or more stories or guns, whatever. The core of the mod is there and it's not flawless, obviously, but damn is it fun and full of cool stuff to do.
We got this gigantic branching 12-30 hour single player story that's packed with big tough decisions, we have so many immersive character focused moments, tons of amazing art and voice acting, glorious music that could be a whole mod unto itself, awesome environments -- I'm exited for you to play it. And make mods for it. Just go nuts.
For now though I'm gonna go to bed. :p Get some rest. R&R now that people are playing it and it's not giving anyone grief. And get ready for a very long release week.
I still have to make a game trailer. :p
Good gods! But I'll get it done. It'll be short, not like the narrative trailer. Just a tiny thing that gets the point across.
You wanna do it?
Nah, it's something I gotta do myself. The internet is a first-impression only-impression kind of place so it's gotta be good. I'll get it done by my next big news post on the 19th.
Check us out on our: Discord.gg
You can read more about our progress on the Design Documents Found Here. In the mean time, you can keep track of us on ModDB, Fallout Nexus, or Facebook. We've got a thriving online community centered around each one.
You can also throw dollars at me on Pay-Pal so I don't starve to death at my desk: Nexusmods.com